Colorado: How to Earn a Psychology Doctorate Degree

From getting an undergraduate degree to acquiring relevant experience, this guide will tell you everything you need to know to become a practicing psychologist in Colorado. To become a psychologist in Colorado, you’ll need education, experience, and licensing. Let’s get started.

Quick Facts

  • The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has specializations such as geropsychology and trauma psychology, for those who are interested in focusing their counseling on a specific audience.
  • The University of Denver is ranked as the top value for college in the state of Colorado, with the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Colorado Boulder close behind.
  • There are dozens of undergraduate and graduate degree programs available in Colorado, with many of them offering online classes — however, some require internships for upper graduate programs.
  • Before you can become a psychologist in Colorado, you need to pass two tests: the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology as well as the Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination.

Top PsyD Degree Programs in Colorado

There are over 20 psychology programs available in Colorado. The following schools have programs available for a PsyD:

#1 University of Denver (Denver, CO)

Since 1976, the University of Denver has offered a Doctor of Psychology degree through its Clinical Psychology program. In order to achieve this degree, a student will need 135 quarter hours of graduate credit. Courses taken during the Doctor of Psychology degree include Radical Behaviorism, Psychoanalytical Models, Systems Models, and Qualitative Research Methods. There are a number of specialties that are available in the University of Denver’s psychology program, including Latinx Psychology, Military Psychology, Oncology Psychology, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, and Substance Use Disorder Psychology. The requirements for these specializations may vary.

#2 Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)

Colorado State University boasts five programs in the area of psychology doctorates. Programs available at Colorado State University include the Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. program, Appled Social and Health Psychology Ph.D. program, Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program, Cognitive Neuroscience Ph.D. program, and the Industrial / Organizational Psychology Ph.D. program. All of these programs have different requirements for the degree as well as online options for schooling.

In the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program, students will learn the basics of psychological theory while also completing a residency that will help them accrue their training hours. An internship will be required in order to complete the program and the program itself takes four full-time academic years to complete. This program includes general psychology courses in addition to counseling-focused courses.

#3 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (Colorado Springs, CO)

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs offers both bachelor’s degrees and Ph.D. degrees in psychology. The clinical psychology program has two focuses: geropsychology and trauma psychology. Clinical geropsychology is the study of mental health of older adults and seniors, while trauma psychology is an emphasis on counseling and working clinically with individuals who have experienced trauma.

This psychology program can be used by those who are interested in being a clinical psychologist, the coursework is simply tilted towards these specific specializations. These courses are exceptionally valuable if someone is interested in counseling specifically for older individuals or those who have experienced trauma.

How to Become a Practicing Clinical Psychologist in Colorado

The journey to becoming a practicing clinical psychologist in Colorado begins with a Bachelor’s Degree. This Bachelor’s Degree does not have to be in psychology, though a psychology degree will likely mean fewer credits that need to be taken later on. A Master’s Degree in psychology is helpful but not always necessary; a PsyD or PhD in psychology will take longer if you do not yet have a Master’s, as the upper graduate courses will all need to be taken.

Courses in order to get a PsyD or PhD in psychology will require that you have a certain level of upper graduate courses, including courses directly related to your specialization. The more of these courses you already have, the shorter your PsyD or PhD program will be. From undergraduate to PsyD or PhD, education alone should take between 8 to 10 years. Most graduate programs require that you attend them full-time.

Once you’ve finished your doctorate studies, you will need to apply for a Psychologist Candidate permit.

During your doctorate studies, you may be asked to complete a mandatory residency or internship. Regardless, in order to become a licensed therapist in Colorado you will need 1,500 hours of supervised post-degree experience. This may include up to 500 hours of research and 500 hours of teaching, but most of the hours should be in dealing with clinical work and patients.

Once you have acquired these 1,500 hours of supervised post-degree experience, you will need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and the Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination. Once these tests have been completed, you can apply for a full license with the board.

You may also acquire a license in Colorado through endorsement. If you are already licensed in another state besides Colorado, you can complete the Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination and submit an application. You can also apply for a provisional psychology license which allows you to practice in specific facilities related to child care.

Colorado Clinical Psychologist Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average mean wage for a psychologist in Colorado is $84,270 annually. This is higher than the general mean annual wage of $81,330 on a national level. Colorado is one of the best states in which to become a psychologist, in terms of job saturation and growth.